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Consultancy, mentoring and coaching: how do they differ?

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Find out which professional can solve your company's problem most effectively: consultant, mentor or coach?

Asking for help is a natural thing to do, and often brands also need the help of specialised professionals to guide them in their future. But in the business world there are several types of disciplines that can do this job, albeit in very different ways.

We are talking about consultancy, mentoring and coaching, three concepts that are probably familiar to all of us, but which we may not know as well as we think. Therefore, at OCCAM we analyse what each of them consists of and what their differences are so that you can identify the most appropriate methodology for your situation. Let's get started!

what is consultancy?

do you want to know how to solve a problem? The consultant's job is to find one or several possible solutions to a specific challenge of your brand. In fact, if you are not clear about what exactly the main problem is (but you know that something is wrong), a consultancy is also useful to analyse your situation.

Thus, the consultant works with data and reports to check if the actions you are taking are correct or not, why and what you should change to achieve your goals.

It should be noted that this professional figure does not participate in the resolution of the conflict nor does he or she follow up, but rather proposes what you should do so that your company can take charge of putting it into practice.

Normally, a consultancy lasts about an hour, although this is an approximate figure. The important thing is to find a satisfactory solution to the problem, and for this you should prepare the questions that you will ask the consultant as a representative of the company. In this way, both of you can optimise the time of the meeting and reach a conclusion as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Due to its short duration, the consultant only deals with a topic on which he or she is an expert, which is why there are different types of consultancy: business, sales, marketing, financial, legal, etc.

what is mentoring?

if in your company you know you have a challenge to overcome (although you don't need to know which one in particular) and youwant someone to guide you to solve it, then you need a mentor.

This professional uses his or her personal and professional experience to identify problems, design solutions and help you carry them out, all through a two-way conversation where both the client and the mentor must interact and ask questions to reach a common point.

This is a service that will accompany you through all the steps of the process until the resolution is reached, which is why this procedure is more complete than consultancy, as it advises the client to understand their situation, designs an action plan and participates in its implementation.

However, mentors do not execute the solutions, they guide the company to put into practice the decisions taken together, so that they can check that you are on the right track.

On the other hand, and in contrast to consultancy, a mentor accompanies the client for a medium to long period of time, as it is a more personal and lasting relationship.

what is coaching?

do you want to be able to understand your own situation? Then the popular concept of "coaching" may be the right choice for you. This discipline relies on training, well-structured sessions and professionalism to give clients a new vision to improve themselves.

And no, mentoring is not the same as coaching, as the latter strives for the client to find the solutions they need themselves through their knowledge, while the mentor uses their experience to offer more direct and practical help to the company that has requested their services.

In this way, coaching is characterised by requiring attention for a short period of time, the use of training techniques and a more professional relationship between coach and client than mentoring, i.e. the interactions are directed by the professional, while the client takes on a more passive role and does not take control of the conversation by asking questions at any time.

By way of review, you can consult the following summary table with the main differences between mentoring and coaching:

Mentoring Coaching
Medium-long term Short-term
Mentoring Training
Two-way relationship One-way relationship
Makes use of your expertise Obviates your expertise
Relationships Tasks
Gives advice Does not give advice
Staff Professional

Now, do you want to know which discipline best suits your company's needs and situation? At this point in the article, you've probably identified the ideal methodology that can solve the problem you're facing, so it's time to take action and find the consultant, mentor or coach you want to work with. Go for it!

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